Rice fields are most lovely to look at especially at the beginning of the planting season, when the bright green rice saplings spread across the fields as far as the eye can see. Last month, I followed my landlord to the rice fields to try my hand at tilling the ground in preparation to plant rice. Instead of beautiful lush green fields, what I saw was muddy brown patches all around. The ground was not ready for planting yet. My landlord and I got into the muddy fields and began the tedious work of tilling the ground. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that I hadn’t even been working for half an hour when my arms and legs became sore. Finally, we came out of the muddy fields exhausted, muddy, smelly and dirty.
Now, the rice has been planted and the fields look gorgeous. The muddy ground have become green, beautiful and Instagram-worthy.
Most beautiful things often come with a mess behind the scenes.
We often see photos of missionary families in their prayer cards looking all refined and seemingly having everything in order. But in reality, life on the mission field is just like life in any other part of the world – messy. Missionaries also have their days when they lose it with their kids, struggle with certain pet sins, find that they have no love for the people they are supposed to serve, get discouraged with little fruit in the ministry, and the list goes on. Many times we see the wonderful things that are going on through nicely edited prayer letters, and indeed there are people coming to know the Lord and good work is being done. But behind the scenes of all these beautiful outcomes, are messy situations. Potential local leaders turning away from the faith, opposition faced from non-believers in the village, plans not working out due to sudden changes, etc.
As long as we are still living in this fallen world, mess will always exist, whether we are in the mission field or not. But, it is not always a bad thing. Mess reveals our weaknesses and need for God, and causes us to cry out to God and depend on Him.
The psalmist cries, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.” (Psalm 25:18)
In our quest to live for Jesus in an imperfect world and a sinful state, we face many obstacles. But we have a God who does not leave us in the lurch. He did not say that we will have a smooth sailing journey once we receive Him in our lives. But He did promise to be with us through to the very end. We can cry out to Him and know that He hears, and He will enable us and walk with us. In spite of our weaknesses, struggles and circumstances, God still uses us. In fact, by choosing to use us, it shows how mighty and powerful He is. It also shows how much He loves us and how much He wants to use His people to achieve His purposes.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for You, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
God uses weak people to achieve His purposes. God takes mess and brings out His glory and strength. How beautiful is that! Brothers and sisters, let us continue to persevere on in our journey of faith, and hope and trust in our Lord to use our mess for His glory! His grace is sufficient for us!
Sister Cherlyn Oh